The human brain responds differently to another person depending on how it analyses others status. People who perceive themselves as being of a high status exhibit added brain activity with those whom they think same status as them, while those with lower status have a greater response to other low-status individuals. According to author Dr Caroline Zink, the way people behave and interact with other people is frequently decided by their social status comparative to their own. So information concerning social status is awfully precious to them. The socioeconomic status is not based solely on money, but may also comprise aspects like achievements and habits.
In an organisation such as the one I work in consisting of knowledge workers, “higher” status is attributed to people who are deep technical experts with a number of patents to their credit, who have a track record of shipping fantastic products or people run large teams, which build the cutting edge technology. It therefore becomes very important for leaders to use this as ways to motivate and retain people, especially high potential employees. Some ways to provide status would be
· Recognition of any technology innovation done by an individual or team. Showcasing it in a large audience
· The leaders themselves being hands on technical experts and teaming with younger employees to work on a product
· Visible recognition of High Potential employees for their contribution by an expert
· Mentoring and Coaching by senior leaders who have domain expertise in a certain technology
· Encourage participation in external forum of technology excellence
· Create communities/learning circles of similar technology interests with a senior expert
Although status may be something that is personal and defined differently by different individual, at an organization level there is scope to build in some broad brush-strokes and commonly understand “status” needs depending on the organizational goals and aspirations of employees. Status is something that needs to top of mind of leaders while defining employee development strategies.
Kalpana Sinha is a Leadership and Organisation Professional. Her blog has reflections from her work experiences of over 20 years.